A suicide bomber blew himself up at a peacemaking meeting of tribal elders in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing at least 40 people and injuring more than 100, witnesses and officials said.
The explosion took place at the public meeting in the tribal-majority town of Darra Adam Khel in North West Frontier Province about 25 miles south of the provincial capital, Peshawar.
Alam Khan, a tribesman at the meeting, said a young man walked up to a group of elders and blew himself up. He said the attack killed at least 30 people. Local official Mohammad Shoaib also put the death toll at 30.
"It was a huge explosion and left body parts and blood scattered on the ground," said Ramin Khan, whose left leg and face were wounded. He and others hurt in the attack were brought to a hospital in Peshawar.
Death toll could rise
Dr. Hamid Afridy, the area's chief medical officer, said he counted 40 bodies, some with severed limbs and mutilated faces, at the site.
"We have dispatched more than 100 injured to ... hospitals" in Peshawar and Kohat town, he told The Associated Press.
He said he feared the death toll could rise as many of the injured were in critical condition.
State-run Pakistan Television said the suspected bomber's severed head was found.
Television footage showed blood, shoes and caps littering the bombing site — a tree-lined ground amid wheat fields that is only a few yards away from brick homes.
Darra Adam Khel resident Saeed Khan was near the site and said thousands of people from five tribes were meeting in an open area when blast took place.
Tribal elders organized the meeting to discuss peace in the region.
Spate of suicide bombings
It was the third suicide bombing in as many days in northwestern Pakistan, where security forces were battling pro-Taliban Islamic militants.
On Friday a suicide bomber blew himself up at the funeral of a slain police officer in Mingora town in Swat Valley, killing more than 40 people and injuring at least 60. The next day another suicide bombing in nearby Bajur killed one person and wounded 19 others, mostly security personnel.
Friday's bombing was the bloodiest attack in the Swat Valley since militant followers of a pro-Taliban cleric, Maulana Fazlullah, grabbed control of large parts of the scenic corner of Pakistan's restive northwest, an apparent reflection of how President Pervez Musharraf's government has lost control of parts of the region.